Tremendous talent has come out of Lewisham, none other than Candice Carty-Williams – inspiring journalist, screenwriter and author of bestselling book ‘Queenie’.
What do you think is unique about Lewisham?
‘It was a big hub culture for me, especially seeing people from all walks of life and being able to talk to different people. I always felt inspired by Lewisham, from the big open spaces to the parks and markets. It felt very safe, a really great place to grow up with so many things to see and do. I believed that you could come from Lewisham and do anything you wanted to do. For me, it has always felt quite progressive and cutting edge.’
How did Lewisham shape you as an artist?
‘I never felt boxed in here. Coming from a community like this, seeing such variety and diversity, it opened me up to exploring different paths. Saying that, I attribute so much to my love of reading to Lewisham library. I remember thinking that reading was cool – it felt alive and exciting…a place that drew us in. I spent a lot of time there. My novel actually starts in Lewisham, the skyline, the tower blocks…they’re part of us! Identity is basically the framework that we build to exist within. I think that Lewisham really does take hold of you when you grow up here.’
‘Lewisham is not one of the richest areas but it is rich in culture and community.
Lewisham keeps its identity but it continues to grow in terms of what it can offer. It’s so important, especially in this climate, that we maintain spaces that are welcoming to people from different backgrounds. Here, you are never forced to feel like you’re an outsider. I believe that Lewisham continues to promote that, there’s no ‘otherness’ here…it’s an extension of culture and community. Personally, I never felt that diasporic displacement in Lewisham. I was part of a place…and while there has been some change it has felt like change which has accommodated the people who live here.’
Why should Lewisham be Borough of Culture?
‘We’ve always been ready to become Borough of Culture! Lewisham has always been regenerating itself in such a self-aware way. It’s a connecting place. I think that with extra support, time and energy, this progression will only continue!’